camping: Mount Rainier – Ohanapecosh campground

On this two night trip, we camped at the Ohanapecosh campground, drove up to Paradise for quick fall color exploration, then spent a full day hiking next to the Ohanapecosh River on the Silver Falls and Grove of Patriarchs trails.

Day 1 – Ohanapecosh campground and Paradise

Mount Rainier National Park - Ohanapecosh camping trip

I love entering the park via a gate like this one… excited to see what’s beyond it.

 

Ohanapecosh campground

This was the last weekend of the year for the campground to be open, and all sites are first-come, first-served so I hoped we would be able to get a campsite. Only a few of the loops in the campground are open this time of year, making for limited campsite availability. Regardless, we arrived on a Friday just after noon and were able to get two campsites side by side.

campsite cost per night: $20
amenities: flushing toilets, water, trash and recycle bins
passes: the National Park pass is not needed to camp here

Mount Rainier National Park - Ohanapecosh camping trip

Ohanapecosh Visitor Center

 

I recently updated my Honda CR-V camper and was anxious to try out some new gear. I added a canopy on the side, a small table, and improved the stability of the bed platform by adding legs. Learn more about my setup

 

Mount Rainier National Park - Ohanapecosh camping trip

my Honda CR-V camper setup

Mount Rainier National Park - Ohanapecosh camping trip

cooking dinner under the car awning

Mount Rainier National Park - Ohanapecosh camping trip

my friends’ pickup camper – lookin’ good

Mount Rainier National Park - Ohanapecosh camping trip

the Ohanapecosh River runs through the campground

Paradise

I’m not sure why, but I’ve never been to Mount Rainier in the fall, so I was looking forward to seeing fall color there. Wow! It sure didn’t disappoint.

Mount Rainier National Park - Ohanapecosh camping trip

fall color on the road to Paradise

Mount Rainier National Park - Paradise in the fall

the Jackson Visitor Center at Paradise

Mount Rainier National Park - Paradise in the fall

the Tatoosh range

Dark clouds hid Mount Rainier while we were at Paradise, but it was still beautiful for quick exploration.

Back at camp, after dark the skies were clear and full of stars. We walked over to the bridge for a bigger view of the night sky and spent some time soaking it in before heading back to camp and to bed. Overnight, the low was about 44 degrees.

Day 2 – Silver Falls and Grove of Patriarchs hike

We spent all of the next day exploring and hiking next to the Ohanapecosh River. The lower elevation forest here is so pretty… full of moss, salal and vine maples in the tall conifer forest understory.

Silver Falls hike

Mount Rainier National Park - Silver Falls hike Mount Rainier National Park - Silver Falls hike Mount Rainier National Park - Silver Falls hike

 

The Ohanapecosh River is the highlight of this hike… with multiple waterfalls, narrow rocky gorges, and jade green water.

Mount Rainier National Park - Silver Falls hike Mount Rainier National Park - Silver Falls hike

 

Grove of Patriarchs

The Grove of Patriarchs is a popular, short loop through old-growth forest. The trees here have been spared from wildfires due to being surrounded by the river – some are over 1,000 years old. A suspension bridge crosses the river and leads to a boardwalk trail. Interpretive signs along the trail educate hikers about the ecology of the area.

Mount Rainier National Park - Grove of Patriarchs hike

suspension bridge over the Ohanapecosh River

Mount Rainier National Park - Grove of Patriarchs hike

nurse log providing life to the forest…

Mount Rainier National Park - Grove of Patriarchs hike

Big Cedar tree

 

To finish our hike, we headed back on the Silver Falls trail and explored more alongside the river before finishing the loop hike and checking out the Ohanapecosh Hot Springs.

Mount Rainier National Park - Silver Falls hike Mount Rainier National Park - Silver Falls hike Mount Rainier National Park - Silver Falls hike Mount Rainier National Park - Silver Falls hike

 

The pools of water at Ohanapecosh Hot Springs aren’t much to look at, but they are definitely interesting. There was steam rising off the water where the spring comes out of the ground. The water was warm, not hot… and it smelled like sulfur. The trail passed several more shallow hot spring pools before ending at the Visitors Center.

Mount Rainier National Park - Ohanapecosh camping trip

 

The second night of our trip was rainy and the next day was supposed to have high wind, so we left before noon. I’m so glad I was able to see this place with fall color… it was spectacular!

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